Archive for December, 2008

Control your future

Monday, December 29th, 2008

It’s hard to imagine not having control over your future, but that’s the risk you take if you avoid planning. If you’ve ever seen the show Trading Places, you’ve probably shared the moment of horror…how could they let them do that to that room? Well, even the best intentioned friends and family, don’t know exactly what your tastes are, or how you live in the space. What if those same people were responsible for your future, living at home or assisted living? Hooked up to life support, or DNR?  Do you really want the same person who agreed to covering your bathroom walls in fake flowers to decide if you’re on a feeding tube? Of course not.

No resolutions, just make it a goal for 2009 to put your affairs in order. Wills, living wills, health care proxies, decide to take care of one a month. Do it for yourself, your family, and your parents. If you already have the paperwork done, take some time to review it and update anything that has changed.

And if you need some more impetus…

Home for the holidays

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Although it might not sound very festive, when you’re home for the holidays, between finding a perfect tree, buying last minute gifts and drinking too much eggnog, it’s a good time to take a look around. How do things look? How’s the house, your parents? What’s changed since the last time you were there?

The holidays have enough stress built in, so this is not the time for confrontation. Do keep a little notebook, and write down what you see that doesn’t look right to you. Things to look for include irritability, confusion, short term memory loss, unopened mail, unusual spending and or hoarding, changes in the home, and changes in appetite. Julie Hall in her book The Boomer Burden has a much more comprehensive list, along with suggestions on what steps to take.

After the holidays, talk to siblings or family friends, and compare notes. See if what’s happening is just part of the stress of the holidays or an ongoing issue that needs addressing. If you’re like me and have both parents, try to time it right so you can get one alone on the phone, and check in. Other times, people like, my cousin, who lives nearby, are good go-to people. What you don’t want to do is ignore the situation and hope it will go away. Even thought it may be painful, planning ahead of time is always better than crisis intervention.

What I Want for Christmas

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When I was developing the concept for It’s All About Aging, I began working on my parents to draw up a living will, power of attorney, etc for both of the states they have houses in. While they weren’t openly resistant, they never seemed to get it done.  I had a will done up, along with a living will, and tried to use that for leverage for my parents. “I’ve done it, so you should too.” Still no action. Finally, I just broke it down into smaller more manageable pieces, and applied a little holiday guilt. “All I want for Christmas is for you to give me durable power of attorney.” “What do I want for my birthday? For you to finish your living will.” It took awhile, but after a couple of years, they sat down with an attorney, and got all their papers in order. So everything is good, right? Well, sort of.

In working on the site, I’ve been looking at all sorts of lists on what you should know about your parents and their affairs. It’s pretty daunting. Doctors, prescriptions, insurance policies, banking information, birth dates and social security numbers, user names and passwords, etc, etc. And on the flip side of the coin, who has that list in case anything happens to you?

What I want for Christmas this year, is for my parents to give me a list of their doctors, and all banking/financial information, along with a list of insurance policies, and where to locate them. And I’m making a resolution to sit my husband down, to make sure we both know where our stuff is, as well as theirs. It may not sound very festive, but isn’t peace of mind part of peace on earth?

How Shoes and Aging Issues Connect

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

How on earth can you tie in shoes, with a site about dealing with aging parents? Last week, I was at the Delman sample sale. In the past, I’ve bought lots of shoes there (I’m a sample size), and got friendly with the woman who was running the shoe check. She was always great, admiring what I had, steering me to what she thought were the must haves, and helping me decide between black or yellow patent. Those were the good old days…

This time I stopped by just to say hi, and we got talking. I told her I was working on a new business, so the shoe shopping had to be severely limited. When I told her the business was going to be a web site to give people the tools to deal with aging parents, she was enthusiastic, and told me that she was just finishing teaching a course The Psychology of Aging at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. How’s that for a coincidence? We introduced ourselves, I gave her my card, and she said she’d be in touch after the semester ended. Yesterday, Jelani sent me her resume, which is amazingly diverse, and I can’t wait to work with her on content for the site. If you’re curious, check out this artist she’s working with:

So, you see, there’s always a way to justify buying a pair of shoes (and boots)…